A few weeks back I was hoping that the last second win against the Chiefs might be the spark the Dallas Cowboys needed to get a winning streak going. Well, here we are about three and a half weeks later and things seem a lot more settled in the world of the Cowboys. Tony Romo is on the longest interception free streak of his career, three games. Miles Austin has now performed as a top receiver for three games in a row. The defense is creating turnovers and getting pressure on the quarterback. And the special teams is making it a habit of making big plays and preventing big returns by the opposition.
I was at the game Sunday so I had a different perspective than usual for the game this week. Obviously it was complete domination, but I saw a team that just might be a real contender this year. Sure, it was the Seahawks, but there was no doubt that the Cowboys were in a different class than the Seahawks. Now the real test will begin as the Cowboys will travel over the next two weeks to Philadelphia and Green Bay. If they come out of those games with at least a split then I think we can start talking about the Cowboys being a playoff team. I want to look back one last time at the Seattle game and enjoy the win before shifting my focus to the Eagles...even though I am already pretty well focused on the upcoming game.
What went right: Well, pretty much everything. The passing game was very good once again. The Seahawks sent blitz after blitz at Tony Romo and the offensive line, tight ends, and running backs stonewalled them for almost the entire game. Romo had ample time to find his receivers all over the field. He completed passes to 10 different receivers and had three touchdowns and no interceptions. The running game wasn't great but it was certainly good enough to keep the Seahawks honest. Marion Barber looked almost full strength and Felix Jones is starting to seem a little more durable (by that I mean I'm not holding my breath every time he gets hit because I fear an injury). The defense pretty well dominated the Seahawks. They did give up a few big pass plays but Matt Hasslebeck is a very good quarterback and the big plays he made were near perfect passes. The secondary broke up several passes and the running game of Seattle was basically non-existent after the first quarter. And Patrick Crayton returned another punt for a touchdown. I'm going to have to admit that I was wrong about him as a returner. With adequate blocking he can make a big return because he knows how to read the blocks ahead of him.
What went wrong: From my perspective in the stadium I could see exactly what was happening between Tony Romo and Roy Williams. It appeared that most of the incompletions between the pair were a result of different reads by the two players on option routes. The fact that Roy is the only one having a problem with Tony tells me that the problem lies with Roy Williams. There was one pass in the second half where Tony correctly read that the safety was jumping the short route so he expected Roy to break deep. Tony threw what would have been a touchdown but Roy cut off his route and ran straight into the coverage instead of away from it. The "cute" playcalling of Jason Garrett made one appearance late in the game. With a 28 point lead and about 9 minutes to go, Garret called for a play action pass that resulted in a fumble by Tony Romo. It was a completely unneccesary play at that point in the game and, in the stadium, they showed the displeasure of Wade Phillips on the sideline. After the Seahawks scored, Wade went over to Jason Garrett and appeared to tell him something with the words run the ball in the phrase.
What needs to improve: The running game hasn't been the same since the Cowboys had Felix Jones and Marion Barber go down with injuries. They both seem to be getting close to full strength, but you can see that they both don't quite have their usual burst back yet. The Cowboys will need to be able to control the ball against the Eagles so both backs need to be ready to go this week. Obviously, Tony Romo and Roy Williams need to start clicking. I know it will happen at some point, but this is starting to get ridiculous. I think Roy needs to realize that Tony always looks for the big play first so he should always take that option on his routes when in doubt. The Cowboys can't afford any wasted plays against the Eagles so Jason Garrett needs to be smart with the playcalling especially late in the game with a lead.
My stadium impressions: I'm posting a view from my seats along with this entry. Although my seats were pretty high up (section 433), I had a great view of the field and I didn't feel like I was too far from the action like I had feared. The video boards obviously are amazing and I noticed a lot of fans were watching the board rather than the action on the field. I prefer the field view at the stadium because you can see so much more of the offensive and defensive strategy play out when you can see the entire field in front of you. The stadium itself is an absolute palace. The concessions and bathrooms are easily accessible. I don't leave my seat during the game so I don't know about wait times during half time or between quarters, but before the game there were no lines for the bathrooms or at the concession stands.
My biggest gripe about the stadium is the sound system. I don't know if it was where I was sitting, but I could hardly make out the stadium announcer calls after the plays and the music sounded atrocious due to the different speakers hitting me with the same sounds at different times. Things might be better down in the high dollar seats, but, up high, the sound system is flat out terrible.
The coolest thing I saw at the stadium was the opening of the giant glass doors in the endzone before the game. At 10 am when fans were allowed to enter, security lined up in front of the doors. Dramatic music fired up and then the doors slowly opened to unveil the center of my football universe. It was the neatest pre-game moment I can ever remember at a stadium. It took a few minutes for the doors to open and then the fans streamed into the stadium when the line of security gave the ok.